Second Edition of Chan Comes West Published

Chan Comes West (2nd ed.) book coverChan Comes West (2nd ed.) back cover

The second edition of Chan Comes West, edited by Rebecca Li, was published in February 2016.  Copies of this book can be obtained by contacting Dharma Drum centers.  Below is the Prefaces of the book.

Preface to the First Edition

In the summer of the year 2000, Master Sheng Yen held a 49-day silent illumination  retreat for the first time at the Dharma Drum Retreat Center at Pine Bush, in upstate New York. During the retreat, he urged the participants to practice diligently, and jokingly said, “I want someone to be my Dharma successor so that I can be a lineage master as well.”

Towards the end of the retreat, Master Sheng Yen announced that among his Western disciples there were already a few who are qualified to teach the Dharma and to independently lead three-day or seven-day retreats. He pointed out that these individuals are chosen based on three criteria. One needs to have a stable personality, a correct understanding of the Buddhist teachings, and a great vow to spread the Dharma in order to benefit all sentient beings. An individual can be appointed a “Dharma teacher” if he or she has met these criteria, but does not need to have received confirmation of “seeing the nature.” A Dharma teacher can teach the Dharma and lead three-day retreats independently. A Dharma heir, however, is one who has met these criteria and received transmission from Master Sheng Yen, which must be preceded by the verification and confirmation of one’s experience of “seeing the nature.” A Dharma heir can teach the Dharma, lead seven-day retreats independently, and confirm other people’s experience of “seeing the nature.”

Since that retreat, in addition to John Crook, who received transmission in 1993, three other Western disciples have received transmission from Master Sheng Yen. It seems causes and conditions have ripened for a book on Master Sheng Yen’s Dharma heirs in the West. Since all of these Dharma heirs are lay practitioners with careers and families of their own, I believe it would be of interest to Master Sheng Yen’s students to know how these Dharma heirs came to the practice and their experiences on the Path. So I invited each one of them, John Crook, Simon Child, Max Kälin, and Žarko Andričević , to write an article telling us about their experiences in the practice, to be published in a small book. When I invited Master Sheng Yen to write an introduction for the book, to my delight, he decided to write an article about his experiences in the practice and to clarify his view on the issue of lineage transmission. This article gave the book its focus on the issue of transmission, and as a result, we decided to include the lineage chart of the two lines of transmission Master Sheng Yen has received for the reference of those interested.

This book is a result of the collective effort of Master Sheng Yen, the four Dharma heirs and a great number of bodhisattvas who helped in producing, editing, and funding this publication. It has been a true privilege to work on this project with these individuals. In the process, I learned a great deal about Chan in action—using wisdom to handle business, not insisting on one’s point of view, and working only to benefit all sentient beings. I would like to express my gratitude to Master Sheng Yen and these Dharma heirs for everything they have taught me in this process. I would also like to thank everyone who helped in the book’s production. Finally, thanks to all those who helped raise the money necessary to print this book for free distribution in order to benefit more people.


Dr. Rebecca Li

Bridgewater, New Jersey, 2002


Preface to the Second Edition 

The preparation of the second edition of Chan Comes West began when Master Sheng Yen, whom we call “Shifu,” (teacher) asked me to add an article by Gilbert Gutierrez after he gave transmission to Gilbert, his last lay Dharma heir, in the summer of 2003. Around the same time, I was informed that the first edition of Chan Comes West was almost out of stock. It seemed a perfect time to begin the preparation for the second edition. Yet, it took many more years before all the causes and conditions finally came together before the second edition can be published.

Over these years, a couple of things happened that allowed me to make some useful additions to this book. First, there is an addendum to Shifu’s article on his practice and transmission. This addendum is a transcript of part of a meeting between Shifu and two of his Western Dharma heirs, John Crook and Simon Child from the United Kingdom, who paid a visit to Shifu at Dharma Drum Retreat Center in the fall of 2006. In this part of the meeting, John Crook asked Shifu for advice on how to identify suitable individuals for them to give Dharma transmission to the next generation, in addition to the criteria clearly articulated by Shifu in his article and when they received transmission from Shifu. Shifu’s response sheds light on this important matter. Shifu’s response has already been published in the New Chan Forum, a magazine published by the Western Chan Fellowship founded by John Crook, led by Simon Child at present after John passed away in 2011. Immediately after the meeting in 2006, I asked Shifu for his permission to insert his response as an addendum to his article in the second edition of Chan Comes West, and Shifu agreed. Next, in 2010, Dharma Drum Mountain in Taiwan published an updated lineage chart that reflects some revisions after further research. This updated lineage chart will replace the one used in the first edition.

I want to express my gratitude to Shifu and all his Dharma heirs who have contributed to this book both for their support and wisdom and for the valuable lessons I have learned from embarking on this project. Many thanks to my Dharma friends, in particular, Ernie Heau, Chih-ching Lee and Guo Sheng Fashi, who have put much effort into the production of this edition, and to the generosity of those who made the publication of this book possible. I also want to thank Gilbert Gutierrez for his patience as he sent me his article soon after I requested it many years ago. Please forgive me for the long delay.


Dr. Rebecca Li

Bridgewater, New Jersey, 2016

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